Kong Bunchhoeun, Cambodian author and songwriter, Died at 77

  Music, Writers

Kong Bunchhoeun was born on October 18, 1939, and died on April 18, 2016.

He was a well-known Khmer writer, novelist, songwriter, filmmaker, a painter, and poet.

He composed more than 200 songs between the 60s and the 70s and contributed to “Golden Age” of films and songs in Cambodia.

Kong had composed a number of hit songs for Cambodia’s greatest singer of all time, Sinn Sisamouth and the contemporary vocalist and singer Preap Sovath.

Various selection of his work touched upon his hometown of Battambang, earning him the pen name “Master Poet of Sangkae River”.

He has composed a number of poems and novels when Cambodian literature flourished in the 60s, and he survived the Khmer regime partly as he wrote less towards the fall of Phnom Penh to the Khmer Rouge.

Now, there is no real credible record as to how many novels and songs he might have written.

Bunchhoeun’s most well-known work of literature, The Fate of Tat Marina, published in 2000, is a loosely fictionalised account of his niece Tat Marina’s affair with Svay Sitha, an undersecretary of state at the Council of Ministers, and the subsequent acid attack that left her suffering ghastly wounds.

Marina recognized Sitha’s wife, Khourn Sophal, as her attacker.

There was an arrest warrant for Sophal was signed, but she was never arrested.

As Kong saw Marina’s story as an opportunity to speak out, he received death threats, fled to Thailand after 2000, and later sought an asylum in Norway in 2005.

He when on writing in self-exile, publishing at least 10 books from abroad.

Kong Bunchhoeun passed away at 77 yrs old.